Each week Pastor Sarah offers a devotional reflection to connect with the South Shore UMC Family. Use this entry as a way to prepare your heart and mind for worship. See you Sunday!
Sunday’s Scripture ~ I Thessalonians 2:1-8.
Devotional Scripture ~ Romans 8:26.
Every so often I see a modern paraphrase of one of A.A. Milne’s ‘Winnie the Pooh’ scenes circulated on social media. In this scene the Pooh Bear, Piglet, and Christopher Robin come to Eeyore’s house, though the glum stuffed donkey is not much in the mood for having or entertaining guests. Piglet shares they wanted to check on Eeyore, as they had not seen him around recently. And Eeyore shares why that is the case - because he has been feeling lonely and sad and not that much fun to be around...so why would they want to spend time with someone feeling lonely and sad and not that much fun to be around?
It sounds to me like Eeyore has a case of “sighs too deep for words.” They weigh on our hearts. Sometimes we can wrap words around them, to describe them, to give “a face” to what we are either working to gain or working to release. These sighs too deep for words remind - confirm - and sometimes exacerbate the hardness and harshness of life. I know when I come into contact with this experience I either want to launch Operation Ostrich or Operation Turtle - sticking my head in the ground to feign ignorance or withdrawing completely into myself until the world is a bit less scary outside.
Eeyore launched Operation Turtle. And his Hundred Acre Wood Friends countered it with compassion as they launched Operation Together.
So the paraphrase continues - Pooh and Piglet sat on either side of Eeyore’s home, much to the donkey’s amazement. “We are sitting with you,” they said, “because we are your friends and that is what friends do, no matter if you are feeling sad, alone, or not too much fun to be around.” Bravely Pooh and Piglet entered the space created by the “sighs too deep for words” and their presence and companionship affirmed for Eeyore that he was not alone.
“Almost imperceptibly,” the paraphrase concludes, “Eeyore started to feel a very tiny little bit better. Because Pooh and Piglet were there. No more; no less.”
Eeyore’s friends were incarnational. They showed up. They entered uncomfortable space. Their presence was a gift. They did not try to fix the situation; neither did they try to hustle Eeyore towards some kind of resolution. They just were alongside Eeyore, and that made all the difference.
As we share our lives together, one of the most significant gifts we can offer one another as people of faith is the incarnational gift of presence. It is the showing up. It is the courageous entering of difficult spaces. It is the listening. It is seeing and hearing the hurt. It is holding the hand and honoring the tears. It is allowing the person you are showing up for to ‘set the agenda’ or ‘drive the bus’ of the interaction, even if that means there is no agenda, other than sighs too deep for words, and the bus never leaves the aching depot.
This is one way we can make way for the intercession of the Holy Spirit as we offer our heads, hearts, and hands in service to the One who seeks to comfort and make us whole.
Our commitment to Operation Together can lead us to messy places. It can also lead us to wonderful places, where the glory of God is seen and felt as we draw one another lovingly and safely back towards life, and affirm with great confidence this truth:
You are not alone. Not now. Not ever. This is the gift of Emmanuel - God is with us and is making of us compassionate community.
Reflection: Think of a time someone entered an uncomfortable space to sit with you. What were the circumstances? What did their presence gift? How have you entered uncomfortable space with and for others? What did God teach or what has God taught you about the importance of incarnational ministry - of showing up for others?
Prayer: “Oh let the Son of God enfold you, in his spirit and his love. Let him fill your heart and satisfy your soul. Oh let him have the things that hold you, and his Spirit like a dove, will descend upon your life and make you whole. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs. Jesus, O Jesus, come and fill your lambs.”* Amen.
*“Spirit Song,” The United Methodist Hymnal 347.
**Devotional Resource: The Weekly Prayer Project by Scarlet Hiltibidal